There’s an alarm blaring and it makes Techno groan as he reaches over to slam his hand on the clock to turn it off. Usually, he sighs and stands, knowing that he wouldn’t get up if he didn’t when his alarm went off. Today, something is off. He’s exhausted, his head hurts, his sinuses feel as if they’ve been stuffed and it feels like he soaked through all of his blankets with sweat. He groans again, quieter, and reaches up to rub his temples. It’s easy to doze off like this, feeling all sorts of floaty and weird. There are noises in the distance, people moving and talking and things clinking and he can’t fully hear or process them past their existence. He tries to take a breath and chokes, wheezing weakly as his chest clenches. Apparently, he’s got rocks in his lungs as well. His only idea is that he feels like he’s dying and that means that Dream is going to get First Seat Violin.
By God, he could not let that happen.
He drifts in and out of reality for a bit before his door slams open and he jumps onto his feet, swaying as the motion makes him so dizzy that spots dance in front of his eyes. He brought a hand up to clutch at his head as Tommy’s loud voice filled his ears. “Hey! Get up! Wil said that if you’re not ready in ten, we’re leaving!” Tommy’s brassy voice is even worse and he blearily nods, agreeing quickly. Anything to get Tommy to stop talking. He wasn’t sure if his head could deal with any more of his brother’s shouting. How the younger teen was so awake at… Techno looked over to his clock, squinting since he wasn’t wearing his glasses, before swearing loudly. He really did only have ten minutes. He could hear their dad talking to his twin, could hear the scuffling and noises. He shoved Tommy from his room, listening to the screech as he threw on some random clothes from his drawers.
He was quick to dress and grab the work he left on his desk last night. He threw his contact case in his bag as well, slinging it over his shoulder as he reached for his violin case and the folder with his sheet music. The door slams open in a way that makes him cringe and the bright light is even worse. His head feels as if it’s being split open but he manages to stumble into the bathroom. He brushes his teeth with one hand and rips a brush through his hair with the other, pointedly not looking at how flushed he was in the mirror. Once both actions were finished, he just tied up his hair in a bun rather than a braid like he usually prefers and splashes water over his face. That doesn’t really help and, truthfully, he looks god awful. The bags under his eyes are extremely dark, his cheeks are light pink, he’s paler than usual and now he’s dripping with water.
He uses a towel to quickly dry himself off as he hears Wilbur call upstairs for him. It takes him another minute to dig through the medicine cabinet for the Advil. He pops four back, uses his hand to cup some tap water, and down it before grabbing his things before he rushes down the stairs. Tommy and Wilbur are standing by the door, both looking amused but Wilbur’s face drops when he comes into view. “Uh- Tech, I don’t think-“ Techno cuts him off by shoving his violin case into his hands so he can yank on his shoes. He spares a glance at what Tommy’s holding and he sees a travel cup of milk, a spoon, and one of those little mini bowls of cereal. He looks at the clock again and stands up, taking his instrument back from Wilbur. “Done.”
All he gets is a slight frown from his twin before they’re walking out the door. They call out their goodbyes to their dad, who yells back not to fuck anything up and that he loves them. The rush of fear from waking up late settled as he got into the car, hopping into the passenger seat as Wilbur climbed into the driver and Tommy into the back. As Wilbur started pulling out of the driveway, he dug into his bag and pulled out his contacts. He listened as his brothers began to argue over the music playing, like usual. It was Wilbur’s car so he was the one who usually picked what played and most of the time, it was some weird indie band that nobody else had ever heard of.
He lets the sounds wash over him, but he’s not finding it as funny as he usually does. It distracts him from putting his contacts in and the movement of the car doesn’t help. Normally, he can easily pop them in using the visor mirror, though it stresses Phil and Wilbur out when he does, both worried he’ll hurt himself. Today though, it seems like he can’t stop his hands from shaking enough to get them in. After the third or fourth try, he snaps, whirling around in his seat to glare at Tommy in the back seat. “Can you guys shut up for, like, a minute?” He looks over at Wilbur too, making sure the other knows he’s mad with him too, not just Tommy. Both of them simply blinked and seemed to exchange a look through the rearview mirror.
He ignored that with a huff, working on getting his contacts in again. He ended up dropping one and swore, screwing the cap back on his case. He wasn’t going to find that in the mess that Wilbur called a car. He slumped back into his seat with a loud breath, closing his eyes. The darkness soothed the pounding in his head. He had nearly drifted off again when someone gently touched his shoulder. He jerked up, the hand lifting off of his shoulder quickly. The world spun around him and it took a solid ten seconds before it stopped and he realized the car was no longer moving. They were parked in Wilbur’s assigned parking space out in front of their school. He also came to the realization that had been Wilbur who touched him and he had acted like it had been a stranger.
Both of his brothers stared at him in concern. He blinked a few more times before rolling his eyes and throwing open the passenger side door. He threw his bag over his shoulder and grabbed his violin, swinging his stuff around in a huff (though not too wildly because he was sure that Jessica Wattenberg didn’t want a dent in her car that looked like his violin case). He was halfway across the lot when the other two caught up and he felt something he shoved into his hands. A glance down and slightly to the right showed that Tommy had pushed the travel cup, spoon, and little cup of Raisin Bran. He scowled but muttered a thanks, even if he was pissed off that Tommy gave him the worst cereal that they had in the pantry. He knew for a fact that they had better stuff, mostly because he was the one who unloaded the box into the pantry last night.
Too late to complain now, seeing as they were here and he couldn’t go back for anything different. It could be worse, Tommy could have just let him go hungry. He doubted that would ever happen, Tommy was way too worried about food and them going hungry than any 15 year old should be, but it could have happened. He watches as Wilbur overtakes him to lead them into the building and Techno is instantly dazed the moment he walks in. School is loud and bright and there are so many people, but the cotton filling his head makes everything so much worse. He stumbles a little and regrets not bringing a spare set of contacts. It felt like everyone was staring at him, judging him for his messy hair and his glasses. Usually, he looks more put together than he feels. It’s to make everyone else think he knew what he was doing and that didn’t spend hours at home crying over tests and studying until his eyes burned. He wanted his As to look effortless, wanted it to seem like he was easily applying to colleges and hadn’t spent hours crying into his dad’s shoulder about it.
Now he looked like the loser he usually felt like and the recurrence of his nausea wasn’t helping.
As Wilbur branched off to join his own friends and Tommy ran off as soon as he saw Tubbo, Techno briefly considered why he hadn’t just laid in bed all day. If he asked their dad, he would have been allowed to, even without a migraine and the urge to vomit. Something about mental health days, that it was good for them. He almost wishes he had done that instead of having to trudge his way to the band room halfway across the building. He’s glad nobody stops him, though it wasn’t unexpected. The only people who stop him are teachers, possibly because he’s a good student and he doesn’t have a ton of close friends they could pull him away from. He’s grateful that he isn’t interrupted for once and beelines it for Mr. Maron’s room. Another thing he was grateful to see was that the band teacher wasn’t in the classroom. He didn’t want to deal with the hovering and threats to call his dad.
The room was alive with various students chattering, most of them by the instrument lockers. It’s muscle memory that leads him to stand in front of Locker #17. It takes him four tries and repeating the combination for him to get the padlock off. He drops his violin case and sheet music folder into the locker before shutting the door and pushing the lock back into place. He cringes on his way out, passing by a few students in his band period. Bad waves at him and he waves back, but he gets a funny look from the motion. It was an awkward motion, one slowed by his exhausted mind and sluggish body. He feels embarrassment creeping up the back of his neck and is glad that he is sucked into the mass of other exhausted teenagers before Bad can see his ears turning red.
He ducked his head and pushed his glasses up again, weaving in between the groups of friends acting like they hadn’t seen each other in years and the couples making out in the hallway. There was some shouting and a few teachers were yelling at the masses, telling the students to get to first period and stop goofing off. The climb up the back stairwell felt like it took longer than usual and he yawned as he pushed past a group of guys yelling. His head throbbed and he felt ready to just curl up in the middle of the hallway. He walked straight past his locker before realizing that he needed to drop the stuff for his last few classes off. He contemplated just carrying everything around for the entire day but knew for a fact that it would kill his back. He really didn’t want to carry his French 4 work around all day.
His locker was, thankfully, not on the ground like it had been the previous two years. He stared at the worn tag, 565, then started spinning the lock. 24 right, 33 left, 19 right, pull down. He sighed in relief when his locker popped open, glad something was going his way for once. He shoved the books and binders needed for his afternoon classes in the small space, fumbling a little. The slamming of doors echoed around him and each sounded like an explosion. It certainly felt like that. He was irritatingly aware of all the small things, unaware of the things he needed to know. He could feel the shirt on his back, the small baby hairs tickling the back of his neck, the slowly warming metal of his locker door beneath his fingers, but he couldn’t make out the students next to him.
He slammed the door shut, the lock clicking into place, before turning on his heel. His locker was a hallway over from his first class so the walk over wasn’t painful. He greeted his teacher quietly and slung his stuff into his seat, setting his breakfast down. Other students floated in and out, everyone unbothered by him. He dumped the milk into the little cup of cereal and gets about two bites in when he realizes eating makes his stomach churn uncomfortably. He sighs and forces himself to finish right as the warning bell rings. His classmates rush into the room and into their seats within the next few minutes before the intercom crackles to life. There are a few announcements, one of which advertises the Spring musical and practically begs people to come. He knows he’ll have to go because, even if he wasn’t in the pit orchestra for extra credit, both of his brothers are in it and it’s Wilbur’s final high school show.
First period makes his head swim. It was his AP Calculus class and, normally, he wouldn’t mind it. He likes Calc and his teacher is actually competent so he generally enjoys the class. It’s also a challenge and if there’s one thing he loves, it’s a challenge. That’s under normal conditions. Right now, he feels like Wilbur ran him over with his beat-up 2003 Impala. It’s a sharp contrast from the sensation he was experiencing earlier. Now, everything is muffled. It feels as if he’s underwater and everyone else is trying to talk to him from above. His vision swims in and out of focus, making his writing sloppy and the numbers nearly incomprehensible. He can already sense the low grade he’s getting on the worksheet his class had been given.
He gets through his first and second period in a daze, almost as if someone else is guiding his body. It’s weird, almost like an out of body experience. He remembers responding to people, answering questions, and doing his work, but he also doesn’t remember anything at all. He absentmindedly muses if this is what Wilbur felt like when he was high. The nausea from earlier sticks around, not getting worse until his third period. He has his head in his palm when he realizes what’s happening. They’re halfway through a presentation on the symbolism in Wuthering Heights and he doesn’t want to interrupt, but his stomach feels like it’s a gymnast with all the flips and rolls it’s doing. He glances at the classmate to his right and then to his left before hesitantly raising his hand.
The teacher pauses with a sigh. “Yes, Techno?” She asks, eyebrow raising. She’s as shocked as his classmates that he brought attention to himself. Everyone’s eyes are on him and he cringes. This is why he doesn’t ask questions and why he doesn’t usually give answers unless called on. He hates having everyone watch him, judging him. Today seemed to be a first for a lot of things and willingly speaking in class was now one of them. Anxiety kicked in and it only made him more and more nauseous. He lowered his hand once he had been called on.
“Uh, sorry, um, could I use the restroom please?” He spoke up. Even his own quiet voice was loud in the otherwise quiet classroom, the only other noise being the whirring of the SmartBoard and a few snickers. He watches her furrow her brows before sighing and nodding, holding out her hand for his agenda. He scribbles a hall pass out in the section specifically for that purpose and she signs off on it lazily. As soon as it’s in his hand, he’s up and speed-walking himself out the door. It closes a little louder than he originally planned, but he doesn’t have time to care. The blood rushes in his ears and he sways a little as he stumbles his way to the bathroom.
He doesn’t even get to lock the stall before he’s throwing up the shitty cereal Tommy picked for him.
He coughs and gags, feeling his eyes burn from the smell. His stomach cramped and he coughed again. Sweat pooled on his forehead as he gasped for air. He could feel his hair falling out of the bun he had thrown it in and rushed to catch it from falling into the disgusting water. It pooled heavily on his shoulders, just another weight in his tired muscles. He liked his long hair, he truly did, but now it stuck to the sweat on his face and the bile on the side of his lips. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand with a sigh. It took a moment but he shakily reached up to flush the toilet, falling back to slump against the stall door. His panting filled the quiet room and, in the back of his mind, he was disgusted with the fact that he was sitting on the school bathroom floor. Who knew what was down here, but he couldn’t be bothered to move. He could feel his stomach rolling again and he groaned softly. He hefted himself onto his knees again, his stomach rolling again. The sound of him retching and dry heaving covered the sound of the door opening.
He felt someone pat his back and he jumped in shock, nearly banging his head against the toilet paper holder, the hand pulling back briefly. The black dots from earlier returned, making it harder to see as he slumped down again. He sniffled a little weakly, listening as a familiar voice shushed him gently. “Alrighty bud, alright.” Mr. Maron, Jordan, Tubbo’s father, the band teacher: Techno knew him in a lot of different ways. It was him and not some random teacher Techno didn’t know at all. The toilet flushed again and he coughed a little weakly. He reached up to push his glasses up his sweaty nose. He hated being sick, hated feeling as weak as he did. Every bone in his body felt like jello and his mind was putty. “Come on, let’s get you to the nurse.” He was urged to his feet, letting the teacher guide him to the sinks. He took the paper towel given to him and wiped his face, cringing at the burn in his mouth. It took him splashing water on to his face for him to realize what Mr. Maron had said.
“No, wait, I can’t-” He realized how wrecked his voice sounded, the words slurring together. He watched as Mr. Maron’s eyes widened before the man shook his head, an amused look on his face. “Sorry Techno, school policy. Plus we both know your dad would kill me if I knew one of his kids was sick and I didn’t take them to the nurse.” The teacher chuckled a little, motioning to the door. Obediently, he followed. The woozy feeling got worse the further they walked and he was sure Mr. Maron steadied him the few times he stumbled. He vaguely remembers signing himself in and Mr. Maron explaining the situation as he was guided to one of the shitty school cots. The paper crinkled as he laid down and he felt his nose scrunch at the sound. He hated the nurse’s office.
Mr. Maron patted his back gently as the nurse bustled over with the thermometer. He grumbled as the device beeped and watched as the nurse’s eyebrows raised in shock. “101.6. Seems like we’re giving your parents a call, Mr. Watson.” The nurse hummed and he felt an irrational irritation grow in him. “Dad.” He mumbled out, letting himself slump back on the stupid piece of paper. “It’s just my dad.” If he was slurring his words before, he definitely was now. Now that he was laying down and not moving, he was absolutely exhausted. Everything ached and hurt, the throbbing behind his eyes growing worse. He could hear the nurse punch in a number and then heard the steady, “Hello, Mr. Watson?” and knew it was over from there.
He let his eyes close and only woke up when a gentle hand brushed over his forehead and through his bangs. He whined and cracked open his eyes, squinting through the artificial light. After a moment, his father’s kind face came into view, forehead wrinkled in worry even as he smiled. He mumbled something incoherently and his dad chuckled. “Come on. A classmate already brought your things, let’s get you home and in bed.” Phil cooed and he tiredly nodded. He muttered his thanks to the nurse and stubbornly took his violin from his dad, not wanting to be completely useless even if he felt as if he could melt into a puddle. He had already been signed out at the receptionist so it was just the walk to the car. It took a lot longer than he hoped it would be as if the age-old and cracked parking lot was even bigger than it had been that morning.
Once at the car, he didn’t take care when putting his instrument into the backseat like he usually would. He just sort of dropped it in there and threw himself into the passenger seat, curling up against the door pathetically. After buckling the seatbelt. Behind him, his dad made a noise of sympathy and he grumbled in response. There was another noise before the car was starting, the engine rumbling and shaking the minivan. “Let’s get you home and in bed,” Dad said, still so painfully gentle. He didn’t have the will to argue that he wasn’t fragile, that he didn’t need to be treated like glass. He just shut his eyes and was asleep before they even got out on the main road.
When he woke up, he was in his bed, in sweats and a t-shirt rather than the jeans and hoodie combo he had gone to school in. He still felt awful and he had a terrible taste in his mouth, but he didn’t feel as bad as he had earlier. He felt something weighing on his head and reached up to find a wet washcloth soaking his bangs. A quick glance to his bedside table revealed a glass of water and a small bowl, both next to his neatly folded glasses. Next to his bed was a chair with his dad’s laptop sitting on it, closed. He pulled the rag off of his hand and pushed himself up with a yawn, rubbing over his face with the back of his arm. He put the rag in the bowl of water and grabbed the glass, sipping at it carefully to not irritate his stomach further.
He felt a little more alive after some water, better by miles. He still had a headache and his stomach still hurt, but it was manageable. He was careful when getting up and sighed in relief when the world didn't start spinning around him. A blanket was slung over his shoulders like a cape and he pulled some socks onto his feet to protect from the cold hardwood of their house. He trudged from his room and down the stairs, yawning again. As he reached the bottom, he heard a sigh. “What the fuck are you doing out of bed?” He looked over at where his dad was cooking something on the stove, his face set into a frown. He shrugged in response and padded into the kitchen.
He got another sigh but wasn’t sent to lay down. Instead, Phil motioned to a chair. “Sit. I’m making you some soup and I want to take your temperature again.” He instructed and Techno fell into the chair, pulling his blanket closer to him. He let his head rest on the table, blowing out a puff of air to get his hair out of his face, and just listened to the sound of his dad moving around the kitchen. He had nearly dozed off again when he felt himself be shaken awake. “Here, lift your head.” He did as he was told and was rewarded with the thermometer being put into his ear. The thing beeped loudly after a minute and he groaned, but Phil seemed to be happy with the result. Enough to say, “Okay, you can camp out on the couch if you’d like.”
He hummed in response, though he didn’t move from the kitchen table. He shifted to rest his elbow on the table, head on his chin and shut his eyes again. As he did, his dad started to run his fingers through his hair, carefully picking out the knots. He hummed in response, not pulling back or protesting. It was rare that he just got his dad’s attention, just to himself. He knew for a fact that Phil tried his hardest to give them all one on one time, knew that Phil loved them all, and never regretted adopting them. It was just hard when both of his brothers, both his twin and his younger brother, were so loud and social. Tommy always wanted to go out or there was a party going on that Wilbur had to go to or they had some fundraising event for drama. The most Techno had was his orchestra concerts or the odd fencing tournament.
Now, with Wilbur and Tommy at school and the added effect that he was sick, he was monopolizing all of Phil’s time and attention. It was almost guilt-inducing, especially considering the fact that his dad definitely had to leave work earlier to go pick him up and to take care of him. He sighed and looked up at where his dad was still playing with his hair. “Sorry..” He mumbled and he got a concerned look. He didn’t like this look on Phil’s face, he hated when the man got so worried; his brows dipped, his forehead wrinkled, his lips pulled downwards. “I didn’t mean to call you out of work..” The petting stopped for a brief moment before his dad smiled softly and resumed his soothing motions.
“It’s okay to be sick, Techno. I’m sorry I didn’t notice when you boys left earlier. If you aren’t feeling well, you gotta tell me.” He offered his dad a weak smile and got a soft ruffle of his hair in return before Phil returned to the stove. There was a click as he turned off the burners and he shifted the pot from the hot burner to one that had been off. Techno watched as his dad pulled out two bowls and two spoons before pouring the soup into the bowls. He shrunk back a little at the idea of food, but his stomach didn’t seem to be protesting the idea as it had in the morning. He sat up a little straighter as Phil finally turned back to him with a smile. “Alright, what do you say to some soup and shitty daytime tv movies?” He grinned in return and stood to grab his bowl.
After the soup, he ended up curled on the couch, his head in his dad’s lap as Phil’s fingers gently combed through his long hair. He tugged the blanket up against his chin and let himself relax for a bit, full and warm from half of the bowl of soup he managed to get down before his body protested and ears full of terrible HGTV shows. He was forced out of his daze when his brothers returned, Wilbur looking terrified and Tommy looking more worried than scared. His heart briefly ached as he was reminded of his twin’s terrible abandonment issues, but he brushed it off and simply yawned as they babbled out apologies and tried to scold him. He wasn’t gonna worry them more and asserted his brief takeover of Phil’s attention by settling more into the man’s lap. They stopped their rambling when he interrupted. “The only apology I want is from Tommy.”
The room froze and Tommy got a wide-eyed look on his face. He smirked. “You gave me raisin bran this morning, which is, like, the worst cereal we own. Who does that?” He complained softly. It washed the tension out of the room and he settled back down as Tommy and Wilbur’s argument traveled up the stairs. Phil brushed his bangs back and leaned down to kiss his forehead. He looked up and into his dad’s eyes. “You can go back to sleep if you want. No need to stay up if you’re tired. I’ll kick their asses if they bug you.” He simply smiled in return and closed his eyes to do just that.